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Select Specials: Namaqualand

Ludwig’s Bustard

This large, endemic bustard is restricted to arid areas, and undertakes often unpredictable seas-onal movements. Ludwig’s Bustards appear to follow rainfall productivity, and, in winter, move from the surrounding summer-rainfall areas into Namaqua-land. The best regions to search for them are Namaqualand (winter and spring), Bushmanland and the Karoo. The birds are most often spotted in flight in the morning or evening. Widespread casualties are caused by flying birds colliding with electricity pylons. This has prompted research by Dr Mark Anderson of the Northern Cape Nature Conservation Service to minimize these fatalities.

Cape Eagle Owl

This enigmatic owl is infrequently seen because it occurs at rather low densities in largely inaccess-ible mountainous terrain. It is restricted to very rocky areas, where it remains well concealed during the day and is seldom flushed because of its confiding nature. Its bark-like hooting calls during the winter breeding season are often the only indication of its presence, and only the fortunate will observe this species on a visit to the region. Its western strongholds are in the Namaqualand mountains (p.103), parts of Bushmanland (p.94), the Cederberg (p.56), and the interior of the Hottentots Holland Mountains down to Betty’s Bay (p.63). It has been suggested that the South African populations may belong to a different species from the much larger ‘Mackinder’s’ Cape Eagle Owl (Bubo (capensis) mackinderi), which occurs further north from Zimbabwe to Kenya.

Black-headed Canary

This highly nomadic and often gregarious canary, endemic to the western parts of southern Africa, can be surprisingly difficult to find. Although generally widespread in arid regions, it is most commonly located in rockier areas, especially if there are seeding grasses in the vicinity. It is best picked up by its high-pitched flight call, or by waiting near suitable drinking points. Two colour forms occur, and although white-faced individuals have been classified as a separate species by some (‘Damara’ Black-headed Canary, Serinus (alario) leucomaela), this characteristic seems very variable and mixed flocks are often observed. Curiously, although it is has a strikingly different plumage, its calls closely resemble those of the Cape Canary.

Ground Woodpecker

Found in rocky areas throughout the region, this endemic is one of only three ground-dwelling woodpeckers in the world. It breeds in burrows, and feeds almost exclusively on ants. It is found in small groups, which are best located by their harsh, far-carrying calls. The best places to see Ground Woodpeckers are the Cape Peninsula (pp.19, 21), Namaqualand (p.99), Overberg (pp.61, 62), Tanqua Karoo (p.80), Swartberg Pass (p.123), Karoo National Park (p.124) and Kransvlei Poort (p.56).

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4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa

27/09/09: Dalton Gibbs reports back from Gough Island! Read the blog!

26/09/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip report from trips of 12 and 19 September 2009.

30/08/09: British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water proved very successful, with sunny weather and over 20,000 visitors. Callan's "Birding Namibia and the Okavango" was the most highly-attended lecture on the Saturday, with over 240 people. Congratulations to the winners of the Birding Africa competition and the African Bird Club raffle that we helped sponsor!

12/08/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip reports from August and July 2009. Highlights: Little Shearwater and more!

07/08/09: The sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.

27/07/09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has grown! And its sibling never had a chance to hatch. See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

27/07/09: To follow modern nomenclature and systematics, we've adopted the IOC World Bird List, Version 2.1.

13/07/09: The 8th African Bird ID Challenge has launched! Win a 50% discount on a Cape Town Pelagics trip, a copy of Southern African Birdfinder, or African Bird Club membership for 1 year.

6 July 09: Cape White-eye research in our garden.

2 July 09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has hatched! See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

2 July 09: Campbell Fleming, a Cape Town scholar, avid birder and photographer, joined Birding Africa last month as an intern. Click here, to see what he got up to.

2 July 09: New pelagic trip reports from the Cape Town Pelagics trips in June 2009. Highlights: Slenderbilled Prion and Leach's Storm Petrel

30 july 09: Our latest Cape Fynbos and Karoo trip reports feature Hottentot Buttonquail, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and other fynbos and Karoo endemics...

26 June 09: Tungsten mining threatens RAMSAR site, South Africa's Verlorenvlei. Read the Media Release.

22 June 09: Claire Spottiswoode, one of the Cape Birding Route founders, was part of the exploratory team at Mount Mabu. The mountain is part of the newly discovered largest rainforest in Southern Africa.

11 June 09: A colour-ringed Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden. Read why it's a 10 months old male!

14 June 09:
Wildlife at the office of The Cape Birding Route, Birding Africa and Cape Town Pelagics.

31 May 09:
Michel Watelet wins the 7th African Bird Club & Birding Africa ID Challenge. Test your African birding skills and WIN a Birding Africa Cape town day trip or a copy of the Birdfinder!

30 May 09: A tragedy unfolds at Kommetjie south of Cape town as 44 beached False Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and pictures.

14 March 09: Raptor Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09